Some people need an extra nudge to get out of bed in the morning. Noah needed an extra nudge to get onto the ark. The Torah states that Noah and his sons and his wife went into the ark “Mipnei Mei HaMabul” “because of the waters of the flood” (Bereshit 7:7). The Midrash in Genesis Rabbah 32:6 asks: Why does the Torah state that it was “because” of the flood waters that Noah and his family entered the ark? Didn’t God already tell Noah about the flood? Wouldn’t that warning have been enough to warrant Noah going into the ark? In the Midrash, Rabbi Yochanan explains that Noah was a person who lacked faith. According to Rabbi Yochanan, even if the waters had reached his ankles, Noah would not have entered the ark. Many other commentators disagree with this portrayal of Noah as a less-than-faithful person. The Chassidic commentator, R’ Yitzchak Meir of Zinkov, posits that perhaps Noah lacked the faith that God would really bring about a flood. It would take the actual flood waters to serve as an alarm clock for Noah that God was serious about destroying the entire world.
- Do you agree with Rabbi Yochanan’s assertion that Noah lacked faith?
- Why would Noah be hesitant to believe in God’s word?
- What other factors do you think contributed to Noah’s resistance to enter the ark?